Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and many European countries.
The neovascular "wet" form of the disease is responsible for most (90%) severe loss of vision.
There are approximately 200,000 new cases of wet macular degeneration in the United States each year.
The average age of patients with the wet form of macular degeneration is the mid-70s. It rarely occurs before the age of 50. Wet macular degeneration is more common in whites, but occurs in all races.
The wet form of macular degeneration is usually associated with aging, but other diseases which can cause wet macular degeneration include high myopia (being very nearsighted) and some intraocular infections like histoplasmosis.
The first proven treatment was laser photocoagulation, but only 10-15% of eyes with wet macular degeneration are treatable with laser. Then recurrences after laser treatment are common (70% in 5 years).
The average visual acuity 3 years after treatment is usually 20/200 to 20/250.
Patients rarely lose all of their vision from macular degeneration. Though they have poor central vision, most can walk around, dress themselves, and perform many of their normal daily tasks.
Macular Degeneration Network
American Macular Degeneration Foundation site.